Ansible has been acquired by Red Hat in a deal with terms that remain private, though VentureBeat claims $100 million changed hands. The purchase gives Red Hat a relatively well-known and widely used devops tool for system configuration that it can incorporate into its devops workflow.
In a news release and an FAQ, Red Hat said it saw Ansible's tool set as a strong and complementary match for its own product line. The acquisition includes the Ansible project, as well as the Ansible Tower commercial product outfitted with many enterprise-grade additions (such as role-based access control). Existing contracts for Tower customers, and the existing Tower development model, will remain in place.
Ansible's hooks are its simplicity and power, as InfoWorld's Paul Venezia said in his review. The project enjoys a strong community of developers, as cited by Ansible's blog post about the acquisition.
Among the major devops automation frameworks, Ansible most closely resembles Salt/SaltStack, which can operate in both agented and agentless mode, while Ansible uses an agentless architecture. Also, both Salt and Ansbile are built on Python, leveraging the convenience, development speed, and breadth of libraries available to the language, along with all the modules already created for it.
Red Hat has a sizable devops tool set, so will it trade them for Ansible and Ansible Tower? That seems unlikely, based on Red Hat's positioning of its existing solutions, CloudForms and Satellite. CloudForms is mainly aimed at policy, orchestration, and governance of hybrid clouds, not automation; Satellite is for maintaining Red Hat servers and has been integrated with a competing automation system, Puppet.
Rather than replace existing solutions outright, Red Hat plans to adopt Ansible as automation middleware. Configuration requests supplied by CloudForms can be passed on to Ansible, which in turn can automate changes -- for example, by deploying Satellite agents on the machines that need them.
Ansible might also edge out the use of Puppet in Satellite, depending on which of the two solutions has the bigger draw with Red Hat's user base. Satellite itself is also Python-based, meaning Ansible could be a more complementary fit for it in the long run.
[An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Salt requires an agent for its operations, and uses Ruby as its language.]